Possessory

Maritime liens are a special type of lien and merit a thorough consideration. A maritime lien may be defined as a ‘privileged claim’ upon maritime property in respect of services rendered to or injury caused by that property. Maritime property (the res) is, for the purpose of maritime liens, the ship or the cargo, or the freight. The essence of a maritime lien was expressed by the court in The Bold Buccleugh (1852) as being a right which travels with the ship into whosoever’s possession it might go. This is the essential difference between the maritime lien and both the possessory and the equitable lien: It is not dependant upon the lienor being in possession of the property as is a possesory lien. It is not lost if the property is sold to the bona fide purchaser without notice i.e. “Equity’s Darling” as is the equitable lien. The concept of this special lien depends upon the ‘personification’ of the ship. We tend to think of the ship as being the ‘wrongdoer’ and hence the justification for the lien remaining even through a change or changes of ownership. Of course, the lien does not arise in all situations, basically it arises in respect of: Unpaid salvage awards. Harm caused by the ship e.g. collision. Certain unpaid contractual issues e.g. unpaid crews’ wages; unpaid disbursements.